Re-Reviewed: Blade was the start of something special

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 04: Wesley Snipes attends The BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 04, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 04: Wesley Snipes attends The BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 04, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images) /

In 1998, Marvel and New Line Cinema released a movie about a vampire hunter that would change the game for comic book films.

Before the MCU and even before Tobey Maguire put on the Spider-Man suit for the first time, there was Blade. This movie set the stage for the boom of comic book adaptations that would follow for the next 20+ years.

The comic book beginnings of the Daywalker

Blade made his first appearance in a 1973 issue of The Tomb of Dracula. His mother worked in a brothel in London, England. When she went into labor, a doctor was summoned. That doctor turned out to be a vampire named Deacon Frost who fed on his mother during the delivery.

The vampire was forced to flee before he could hurt the baby. But the act of feeding on Blade’s mother made him invulnerable to a vampire’s bite. While he was trained to be a skilled warrior and vampire hunter, he didn’t have any superhuman abilities.

That all changed when he was bitten by Morbius the Living Vampire. Created by science, Morbius had a much different effect on Blade. He gained a variety of superpowers, putting him on par with the vampires he faced. He had all of their powers but none of their weaknesses.

For the first several years, Blade was generally relegated to the darker, horror-themed Marvel comics. He was mainly found associating with Morbius, Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze and similar heroes. These comics were part of Marvel but told very separate stories.

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In more recent years, Blade has been found working with the Avengers, the X-Men and other teams outside of the horror comics. This had led to him becoming a more prominent and well-known comic book hero.

Movie Blade was the same but different

The film version of the character is largely the same with a few key differences. Instead of London, England, the Daywalker was from Detroit, Michigan. His mother was still attacked by a vampire when he was in the womb but that attack gave him a variety of powers. Morbius was removed from the equation.

By the time the movie starts, Blade had long been a vampire hunter operating around the world. The film finds him in Los Angeles, taking down a club owned by Deacon Frost. He becomes embroiled in Frost’s larger machinations.

The plan was to use Blade’s blood to give Frost the powers of La Magra. Frost then happily reveals that Blade’s mother is still alive, and he was the one who bit her all those years ago. It was a huge night for Blade. This reveal continued that key aspect of Blade’s comic book origins.

The first movie did well at box offices, and received overall favorable reviews at the time. Like The Crow before it, Blade was a darker comic book film than audiences were used to. It set the stage for two sequels as well as a TV adaptation. More than that, Blade was the first step in building comic book movies into a more viable option for studios.

First steps to the MCU

Prior to Blade, most comic book adaptations were Batman, Superman and a few select indie titles like The Crow or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Marvel attempted a couple of film adaptations prior to that, but they were mostly duds.

Blade, Mahershala Ali
US actor Mahershala Ali greets US actress Renee Zellweger as he arrives for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2020. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images) /

Not only was this movie Marvel’s first big movie success, it was the first comic book film franchise focused on a Black comic book character. Following Blade, X-Men hit theaters in 2000 and Spider-Man in 2002. Both movies were huge successes.

Between the release of Blade in 1998 and Iron Man in 2008, 15 film adaptations of different Marvel characters hit movie screens. Many of them weren’t great but there were a few absolute gems like Spider-Man 2, which remains one of the best superhero films ever made.

If Blade had bombed, it’s quite likely that many of those movies may not have been made. For better or worse, they were all steps on the path to the MCU. And that has provided moviegoers with many incredible film experiences.

More importantly, the film still holds up today. There are a few small aspects that feel like the late 1990s but the movie’s action sequences are solid. And the dark tone sets it apart from most comic book movies.

Plus, Wesley Snipes was the perfect choice to play the character. His performance still feels right decades later. That being said, Mahershala Ali is currently slated to play Blade in the new movies, which should also prove to be a brilliant casting decision.

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What did you think of Blade? Do you think it still holds up today? Let us know in the comments below!